Written by Lazy Man
If it feels a little quiet around these parts, it is because I'm still adjusting to becoming a dad. I predict that it will continue for the next 20 years... probably longer. I'm learning quite a bit and I think a lot of this will be reflected in the my writing in the future.
One of the first questions that comes up with parenting, is who is going to take care of the baby? It's Baby 101. The options can be split into two categories: someone in the family and hired help (okay, sometimes a combination of the two is possible). Taking care of a baby requires time and that is still a finite resource (until my flux capacitor shipment gets off backorder)... very often that's going to cross over to personal finance.
Given that I work from home, on this online business that I like to attempt to grow (even if it is Syphilian at times), the natural choice would be for me to take care of the Little Man. My wife's closeness to the military pension and a transferable free college education (transferable GI bill is great), her income, and health care, made it quite clear that she wasn't an option to stay at home with Little Man. With no other family in Silicon Valley that eliminated the options that some other people choose.
Then there's the option of hired help. A few months back, I looked into a local Kindercare and priced out their 5 day a week program at around $22,000 a year. That's all after tax money, so it would be a little like taking away a $26,000 income away. Ouch! There were part-time programs, but the pricing structure is perhaps even more prohibitive. The pricing for just two days a week was around $14,000 if memory serves. It got to the point where the cost for 4 days a week was exactly the same as 5 days a week.
My wife and I next went on Craigslist to see about a nanny share. The theory is that a few hours a day off would allow me some time to focus on my work. It's a good theory, but even nanny shares aren't cheap. I typically found prices in the range of $18 to $25 an hour which, even at part time would add up to the $22,000 a year or more.
Lastly, we looked into an au pair. We found that this would be around $8,000 a year, but require giving up our office, which would require some significant downsizing. It wouldn't be impossible and of all the choices seems to be the most practical solution. I would need to do more research to see if there are any other "gotcha's" with this... well aside from having a stranger live with you all the time.
As I was thinking about the au pair solution another idea occurred to me. If I look at this differently, doing the child care myself would be like giving myself a raise of $25,000 in that it saves that $22,000 after tax cost... as long as my businesses don't go completely in the tanker (and I have reason to think they won't). There's also the added advantage that me and Little Man could learn Spanish and Chinese together. That could be a tall order, Little Man is already two weeks old and he hasn't even gotten to a remedial level of baby sign language. If this any indication of his learning aptitude, perhaps I should push his Taekwondo lessons back a month.
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Written by Lazy Man
Regular readers know that I have an affinity for professional football. Sometimes I take it much too seriously. I'm not proud of it, but that's why they call us fanatics, right? Every Monday, one of my favorite writers, Peter King, comes out with an article about all the happenings around the NFL. On a day, known for being the bane of many people's existence, Monday morning is a surprising bright spot in my week. What makes Peter King a great writer, in my opinion, is that he draws you into his life. He's not afraid to talk about his daughters, his experience at the latest Starbucks, or a particularly annoying plane ride. I love that even though I don't have kids, drink coffee, or fly often, I still feel like I can identify with him - and that's why my writing tends to have some of the same influence (so some people tell me, though I think they are being much too kind.)
It's pretty rare that I can share any of his writing with my readers, because football and personal finance - not exactly something that fits together. Last week, was one of those rare occassions. This year he's added a new wrinkle to his column, each week he picks out a NFL player or personal who gives back unselfishly. One week he pointed out that Jason McKie contributions to the military (giving tickets and even meeting the family before the game). Another time, he wrote about how the Kurt Warner family - at a restaurant - will pick out an family and picks up the tab for them anonymously. He does this to show his children the joy of giving - knowing that he is blessed.
This is a long-winded way of saying that I think I've found my second favorite Kelly in Peter King's column last week (you'll need to scroll to the Good Guy of the Week section). Jim Kelly, the guy who may be best known for losing 4 Super Bowls, may just be one of the people who saves your child's life someday.
He lost his son, Hunter, from a rare brain disease called Krabbe Leukodystrophy in 2005. It turns out that this can be diagnosed at birth. According to the article there are 53 other fatal diseases that can be diagnosed today - and Minnesota is the only state that tests for them all. Kelly lobby's the states to try to get them to test for all of them. While we can buy a kit that will do it for $100 (some of the best money I think I could ever spend), he wants everyone to get them for free. He makes a good business case as well since treatment of many of these diseases, though rare, is can be hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars... per year. He's already saved the life of one child and correctly points out that it's worth more than Super Bowls.
The only problem I had with the article is that the editors didn't link to Jim Kelly's organization, Hunter's Hope. (I'm giving King a free pass on this one.) When you have a popular website, you should understand the tremendous value a link has vs. just stating the website's URL in the text. Readers don't want to read a URL and have to cut and paste it into the URL bar - so are doing them a disservice. It's why linking was invented in the first place - and one of the reasons why the web is such a powerful medium. I can see if you might not want to link to a competitor, but a charity that helps children? Poorly done, CNN. I hope you see this and go back and edit your story to give them the link that they deserve.
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